Sometimes life’s lessons come from the most unexpected places. That was the case for me this week.
One lesson learned was at Panera, during one of my writing sessions. In a place such as that it is hard to ignore what is being said at the table next to you. I promise I wasn’t purposefully eavesdropping, but sometimes the ears just hone in on a conversation without really realizing it.
I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but I do remember the man at the table saying, “I’ve learned to lower my expectations. It is much easier to go through life that way.”
I was stunned by the comment and felt an incredible sadness for the man and what he might have experienced in life that caused him to have such a defeating outlook.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t disagree more.
I couldn’t imagine having this attitude toward my life. If I didn’t have high expectations, life certainly wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is.
In my marriage, I have very high expectations. Do they get let down sometimes? Absolutely! But because I expect so much, I work hard to achieve all that I hope for. Expectations and hope give me the drive to work at things to make them better.
All I could think was, I don’t ever want to be a person who sits in Panera and shares how low my expectations for life are. Expectations are what drive us to greatness. I want greatness!
Another lesson came from my 9 year-old daughter. She lost her second molar, in a week, a couple of days ago. When she came out of the bathroom holding her tooth, this is how the conversation went.
Mom, “Wow, My baby girl is loosing all of her teeth.”
Girl, vehemently shakes her hear and says, “No, I don’t want to.”
Mom,” Why not?”
Girl,” Because I want to make it last.”
Mom, “What do you mean, you want to make it last?”
Girl,” I don’t want to grow up.”
Mom, “Well you still have several years left of being a kid.”
Girl, in tears, ” I know, but this year I am going to be in double digits!”
She proceeded to tell me how she loved being a kid and didn’t want to be a grown up, because kids get to do things that grown ups can’t do.
I was all choked up. I couldn’t help but think, either I am doing an awesome job as a Mom because my daughter is enjoying her childhood so much, or I am doing a lousy job as an adult, because my daughter dreads the day it is her turn. My guess is a little of both are true.
Being a Mom, naturally full of guilt, I couldn’t help but focus on the latter. Do I portray adulthood as so bad? Maybe. She sees me constantly on the computer working. She sees my fatigue and short temper at the end of the day. She sees me struggle to make time for play. She sees the endless and dreaded chores. She sees me trying to balance finances. She hears me argue with her Daddy.
It is haunting to think about how she sees my life, a mirror as to how my husband and son see me. How I see me.
I am far too often wrapped up in life that I forget I have two little admirers taking notes. Showing struggle and resolution is important, but more important is showing the joy. I feel it inside, but am certain I don’t express it as I should.
I want her to imagine the beauty of adulthood. Falling in love, parenting, freedom. I am certain that I don’t show the affection I feel toward my husband often enough in front of her. Maybe if I did, she wouldn’t fear adulthood like she does.
It is quite apparent that I need to lighten up. Stop making life so hard. Show the joy and affection in my marriage so that my daughter can look forward to experiencing that for herself one day. Express and point out the joys in life, rather than just the struggles.
Maybe, I just looked too far to into it. I mean, who doesn’t wish to still be a kid? Free of worry and stress? But, being an adult sure has its perks too!
Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Don’t forget you can learn a thing or two from strangers and 9 year olds.